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Killing of BSF officer: Dhaka says we regret

Bangladesh Minister of State for Home Affairs Mohammed Lutfuzzaman Babar called Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to express regret over the...

Bangladesh Minister of State for Home Affairs Mohammed Lutfuzzaman Babar called Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to express regret over the death of BSF Assistant Commandant Jiwan Kumar on Saturday in the Lankamura sector in Tripura. It is understood that he has also conveyed to the home minister that Dhaka has ordered an inquiry and would take stern action against those involved in the incident.

Earlier, Director General Bangladesh Rifles Jahangir Alam called up his BSF counterpart R S Moosahary to convey the same message.

Assistant Commandant Jiwan Kumar, who was the company commander of the BSF unit in the area, and constable K K Surendran were dragged into Bangladesh territory and attacked by the BDR. Kumar’s body was recovered from inside Bangladesh territory and had marks of bullets fired from point blank range and injuries from sharp weapons.

Kumar was killed and the constable severely injured when they tried to meet the BDR company commander to secure the release of an Indian national kidnapped by the Bangladeshis.

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Bangladesh assurance came a day after New Delhi lodged a strong protest and warned Dhaka that ‘‘repercussions’’ of this could not be ignored.

Bangladesh Acting High Commissioner Masud bin Mommen was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs yesterday and told that the entire incident appeared ‘‘pre-meditated’’ and ‘‘pre-planned’’.

Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal too said he hoped that Bangladesh would take action against those responsible for the death of the BSF officer.

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New Delhi while conveying its disppointment and regret, also gave its version of what it thought had happened in the Akhaura Sector of the border last Saturday.

Bangladeshi media, however, gave a different account alleging that a fierce gun battle had erupted on the Akhaura border, during which they claimed that BSF personnel entered Bangladesh territory on April 16 and opened fire on BDR, killing three Bangladeshi nationals.

According to the inquiry on the Indian side, villagers reported to the BSF border outpost at Lankamura at 4.30 pm on April 16 that an Indian national, Ramdhan Pal, had been abducted and taken forcibly into Bangladesh territory. He was apparently trying to locate his cattle that had possibly strayed into Bangladesh.

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Kumar along with three others rushed to spot and tried to talk to BDR personnel. But far from trying to resolve the issue peacefully, the BDR along with some armed Bangladeshi civilians started firing on the BSF team who were, the Indian High Commission in Dhaka said, about 50 yards from the zero line within Indian territory. Venugopal, another constable, was injured in the firing.

BSF Director General Moosahary, who was in Bangladesh for talks with DG BDR, immediately took up the matter and orders were issued to stop firing. BSF stopped firing around 7 pm but the BDR firing continued till 9.30 pm.

Subsequently, the commanding officers of the BSF and BDR regiments in the area carried out a joint verification during which Kumar’s body and an injured Surendran were found inside Bangladeshi territory. It was later established that the two had been dragged across the border by BDR personnel.

Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Veena Sikri has already met the Acting Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh and External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh is also expected to take up the matter with his Bangladeshi counterpart M Moreshed Khan in Jakarta on the sidelines of the meet to commemorate the golden jubilee of the Bandung initiative.

Meanwhile, National Security Advisor (NSA) M K Narayanan reviewed the security sitauation along the Indo-Bangla border. The meeting was attended by DG BSF, and senior Home Ministry officials.

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Sources said that BSF has been asked to further increase its vigil along the border but at the same time company commanders have been instructed to maintain restraint and resort to firing only ‘‘warning shots.’’

First published on: 20-04-2005 at 01:15:15 am
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